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Judge: Obamacare’s HHS Mandate Forces Catholic Groups to Violate Their Religion

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 12/17/13 12:21 PM

National

A federal judge has given the pro-life side another victory against the Obamacare HHS mandate that compels religious groups to violate their conscience by paying for birth control ad drugs that may cause early abortions.

The judge ruled late Monday that a group of Catholic organizations in New York don’t have to comply with the HHS mandate.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, told LifeNews he is delighted by the ruling. Pavone noted that a decision in Priests for Life’s lawsuit against the mandate is expected any day. The Priests for Life case was heard Dec. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Priests for Life filed the fourth of dozens of lawsuits filed to challenge the government’s overt violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“This is a victory for religious freedom and all people of faith,” said Father Pavone. “The fact that the judge found that the ‘coercive pressure’ to make these Catholic employers violate their foundational beliefs was ‘substantial’ should not be overlooked. This battle is not about contraception. It’s about the government trying to deny citizens the right to practice their faith, in violation of the very principles on which this country stands.”
“We, too, are confident of victory,” Father Pavone said.

Businessweek has more on yesterday’s decision:

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan in Brooklyn today barred the government from enforcing the mandate against Catholic Health Care System, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Cardinal Spellman High School and Monsignor Farrell High School.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and the health and educational groups challenged the mandate on religious freedom grounds. After the U.S. issued a rule exempting the archdiocese, schools and health-care affiliates were still subject to the law, which takes effect Jan. 1.

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The groups “have demonstrated that the mandate, despite accommodation, compels them to perform acts that are contrary to their religion,” Cogan wrote. “And there can be no doubt that the coercive pressure here is substantial.”

Groups that don’t comply with the mandate are subject to fines of $100 a day per affected beneficiary, Cogan said.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island, the largest of the groups, oversees six hospitals, three nursing homes and a hospice service and has a health plan covering almost 25,000 people.